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A MUSLIM MINISTERS TO A SOUTHPAW
Martin Kane
September 19, 1966
A new Cassius Clay, wrapped in clerical sobriety, administered a fierce beating to Germany's unorthodox Karl Mildenberger, but the fight went 12 rounds, obscuring the point of the champ's sermon
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September 19, 1966

A Muslim Ministers To A Southpaw

A new Cassius Clay, wrapped in clerical sobriety, administered a fierce beating to Germany's unorthodox Karl Mildenberger, but the fight went 12 rounds, obscuring the point of the champ's sermon

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There is little doubt that Clay approached the fight with a clear intent to punish Mildenberger severely. A newspaper dispatch had quoted the German as saying that Negroes have a special difficulty dealing with southpaws, and whereas Joe Louis laughed when he read it at breakfast one morning, Clay took it seriously as a racial slur. Furthermore, some of Mildenberger's entourage hold to the ancient boxing clich� that Negroes are relatively unaffected by head blows, which is something that Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston should have been told before they engaged each other and Clay. The glare that Muhammad flashed to Mildenberger at the weigh-in, when he turned out to be a trim 204 pounds to Mildenberger's 196, probably was not put on for photographers. It had a genuine look to it.

Clay may have felt some honest concern on the southpaw question since he really does have trouble with left-handers, though no more than the average right-handed, orthodox boxer. Mildenberger was, of course, advertising his best punch, a "left to the liver," and during the fight he tried to deliver it, with minimal success.

In the sixth round, with Mildenberger bleeding profusely, Clay came out quite obviously determined to demolish his opponent. For the first time in the fight he was persistently aggressive, but he also was overanxious. He missed repeatedly, and though he was driving Mildenberger about the ring at the end of the round, he was punching wildly. He did much the same in the eighth, at the end of which Mildenberger was most unsteady as he walked back to his corner. But in the ninth, surprisingly, Mildenberger came out with renewed vigor and won the round. After Clay knocked his opponent down with a right in the 10th round, however, he was laughing in his corner. He knew the end was near now, and so did everyone else. It came two rounds later.

Clay's next opponent, the indications are, will be Cleveland Williams, once a most dangerous puncher but a poor shadow of himself since he was shot in the belly by a policeman a couple of years ago. This presumes that Clay will still be a civilian when the fight comes off and so does his plan to take on Ernie Terrell—master of the long jab and of little else—once he has disposed of Williams. As it stands, Clay would appear to be running out of suitable opposition. The fields of boxing are less than fertile these days and crops are poor, especially among the seasoned heavyweights.

But this fight, in the chilly mists of Frankfurt's stadium, did establish that somewhere in Nat Fleischer's Ring Record Book there just might be a young fellow who, in a year or so, could give the world heavyweight champion a proper test.

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